We don’t tend to write about the various talent shows on ShortList.com. You know the drill - if you’re into these things, you watch them already, and if you don’t, you probably don’t care about the latest act to ‘go viral’.
Occasionally, though, something genuinely amazing does emerge; something genuinely pretty jawdropping and gamechanging.
The dream, of course, for every single X Factor or Mozambique’s Got Talent or whatever, is to find that SuBo moment: the absolute, totally unexpected performance from a complete unknown - and, ideally, a complete unknown who looks completely unassuming and/or a figure of fun.
SuBo, of course, will probably never be bettered (same goes for thatreaction gif), but a 13 -year-old girl from Peterlee, near Hartlepool, has come close during her audition on America’s Got Talent.
Appearing meekly on stage, singer Courtney Hadwin can barely look at the judges while saying to Mel B that she’s “a little bit nervous”, giggling awkwardly before saying that her favourite subject at school is music.
Before this, in a pre-filmed sequence that tells you she’s either going to be terrible or brilliant because why else would they film it, her dad appeared saying that she was so shy that she had difficulty making friends and talking to people.
So you’re starting to think, ‘well she’s 13, they’re probably not going to humiliate her on national TV, so she’ll probably be good. Sing a nice ballad, lovely job’.
But then she starts singing.
Yeah, that wasn’t what we were expecting either.
Performing Otis Redding’s classic ‘Hard to Handle’, she unleashes a Janis Joplin-esque raw soul vocal whilst indulging in some pretty unique dancing.
After receiving a standing ovation from the crowd, the judges then gave their comments, with Simon Cowell saying:
“Bloody hell, Courtney. You’re like this shy little thing when you first came out. And then you sing, and you’re like a lion. I mean, genuinely, incredible.”
However, it was fellow judge Howie Mandel who was most impressed, explaining:
“You are not from this era. You’re from a whole different era.
“And I’m a huge Janis Joplin, and there’s a story if you ever watched the documentary, Clive Davis, he goes to the Monterey Pop Festival and he sees this young girl that nobody has ever seen before, that nobody knows - it was the first time Janis Joplin got signed, and that changed her life.
“I’m not Clive Davis, I’m Howie Mandel and I can’t sign you to a record deal. The only thing I can do for you, young lady, is give you…”
And boom, complete with an uplifting Pink you’re-ugly-but-honestly-it’s-fine-because-I’m-telling-you-you’re-perfect-because-we’re-all-perfect-inside-aren’t-we-and-seriously-saying-this-meaningless-shit-really-sells-records soundtrack, Mandel presses the golden buzzer.
Confetti erupts, everyone cries, the video goes viral and everyone goes home happy.
But hold on a second.
Because last year, Hadwin not only appeared on primetime TV in the UK, auditioning in the The Voice Kids UK, she actually made it through to the final.
This is her blind audition, when she performs the Tina Turner classic ‘Nutbush City Limits’
The Newcastle Chronicle first wrote about her two years prior to this, and described how she had ‘performed at shows right around the region’.
It’s a difficult one; maybe her ‘nerves’ on America’s Got Talent were genuine - it’s a bigger stage, both literally and metaphorically, than The Voice Kids UK - but it’s also not wholly different. There’s the sneaking suspicion that she’d been recommended to the show, and it’s hard to believe that Simon Cowell, for one, wouldn’t already be aware of who she was. Maybe she was told to ham it up by producers? It’s highly likely, and it’s worked, but it’s still not quite the same. Nonetheless, the girl can seriously sing, and there’s every chance she will win the whole thing.
But the Susan Boyle story still wins after all these years because it was 100% real. Let’s watch it again shall we? Yeah let’s do that.